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Adam Watson (scientist)

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Name  Adam Watson
Role  Biologist
Education  University of Aberdeen

Adam Watson (scientist) httpsuploadwikimediaorgwikipediacommonsthu
People also search for  Desmond Nethersole-Thompson, Kai Curry-Lindahl, Derek Ratcliffe
Books  Place Names in Much of, A Zoologist on Baffin Island - 19, Birds in North‑East Scotland, The Cairngorms of Scotland, Points - Sets and Man

Adam Watson FRSB, FArcticINorthAmerica, FRSE, FCEH, FRMetSoc, (born 14 April 1930), is a Scottish biologist, ecologist and mountaineer. He is one of the most recognisable scientific figures in Scotland due to his many appearances on TV and radio. His vast academic output and contributions to the understanding of the flora and fauna in Scotland and elsewhere has been internationally recognised (see Honours Awards). Dr Watson is widely acknowledged as Scotland's pre-eminent authority on the Cairngorms mountain range, and has written extensively about them.


Adam Watson (scientist) Adam Watson scientist Wikipedia

Early and personal life

Adam Watson (scientist) httpsuploadwikimediaorgwikipediacommonsthu

Adam Watson was born on 14 April 1930 at Turriff, Aberdeenshire, Scotland. In March 1955 he married Jenny Raitt in Aberdeen. Adam and Jenny have two children, Jenny and Adam Christopher.

Academic achievements

From an early age, Watson showed considerable academic prowess. He was Dux of Turriff Primary School (1942) and of Turriff Senior Secondary School (1948) in Latin & English, Higher Latin, English, French, Science, lower History and Mathematics.

At Aberdeen University, in 1952 Watson gained 1st class honours in Pure Science (Zoology) and also won the MacGillivray Prize, Department of Natural History. In 1956, he got a PhD for his thesis on the "Annual Cycle of Rock Ptarmigan", a bird that has fascinated Watson all of his adult life. In 1967, he added a 2nd Doctorate (DSc) for scientific papers on populations and behaviour of northern animals.

Watson was inspired by the writings of Seton Gordon, whose book The Cairngorm Hills of Scotland Watson came across as a child, and was 'transformed' by its content. This sparked his lifelong interest in the Cairngorms, and Watson remained in contact with Gordon until his death in 1977.

Published output and editorships

The body of work by Dr Watson over 58 years (1944–2012) includes: 23 books, 287 peer-reviewed scientific papers and 178 technical reports, 40 book reviews, and many articles in newspapers and magazines.


  • 1956–64 Editor, The Scottish Naturalist
  • 1969 Editorial Bhi
  • 1970 Editor, British Ecological Society’s 10th Symposium Volume, Animal Populations in relation to their Food Resources (Blackwell Scientific Publications)
  • 1981–89 Editorial Board, Agriculture, Ecosystems and Environment
  • Testimonials

  • "He brought to the (John Muir) Trust immense expertise and authority from a lifetime's scientific work on the ecology of the Cairngorms, an unparalleled field knowledge of the hills and intense personal commitment to their special qualities." (page 11, PDF document)
  • "Few people know more about snow in Britain than Watson, who has spent almost six decades ski-mountaineering and walking around the Cairngorms, studying snow and the birds and mammals that live in it."
  • "Dr. Watson is one of the most respected authorities within his field. He has written fifteen books on landscape and wildlife, including the definitive mountaineering guide The Cairngorms, which has been in-print since the 1960s."
  • Fellowships, honours and awards

    In addition to Watson’s academic achievements, he has a wealth of honours and awards:

  • 1969 Nuffield Fellowship to lecture at Canadian universities
  • 1971 Fellow of the Royal Society of Edinburgh
  • 1980 Fellow of the Institute of Biology
  • 1980 Chartered Biologist of the Institute of Biology
  • 1982 Honorary Life Member, Cairngorm Club
  • 1983 Fellow of the Arctic Institute of North America
  • 1986 Royal Society of Edinburgh Neill Prize for 'your outstanding contribution to Natural History and in particular to your study of Red Grouse and the environmental impacts of developments in mountainous countryside’
  • 1986 Distinguished Scholar at University of Virginia
  • 1995 DUniv, University of Stirling (Honorary)
  • 1995 Medal of the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds
  • 1995 Witherby Lecturer, British Trust for Ornithology
  • 1997 Honorary Life Member Worldwide Fund for Nature-UK "in recognition of..outstanding quality of work, and a lifetime of dedication to securing the future of the Cairngorms", also Honorary Life Member of the Scottish Ornithologists Club
  • 2000 Emeritus Fellow of the Centre for Ecology and Hydrology
  • 2003 Portrait for permanent display in National Galleries of Scotland, Edinburgh
  • 2004 Lifetime Achievement Award of the John Muir Trust, for conserving wild places - presented by Dick Balharry
  • 2006 Associate Fellow of Royal Meteorological Society
  • 2008 Emeritus Member of the Ecological Society of America
  • 2009 Fellow of the Royal Meteorological Society
  • 2012 Award for Excellence in Mountain Culture, Fort William Festival
  • 2012 Golden Eagle Award of the Outdoor Writers and Photographers Guild
  • 2014 DSc, Aberdeen (Honorary)
  • Dr Watson is also an Emeritus member of the Ecological Society of America, and has been a member of the Scottish Mountaineering Club since 1954

    Notable duties

    In addition to Dr Watson's distinguished career, some of the duties he has had include:

  • 1972 Chief expert witness for the Crown in the Cairngorm Plateau Disaster Fatal Accident Inquiry in February at Banff (five children from Ainslie Park High School, Edinburgh, and an instructor died in the snow at Feith Buidhe on the plateau in November 1971)
  • 1981 Main scientific witness commissioned by the Nature Conservancy Council at the Lurcher's Gully Public Inquiry, on behalf of the Institute of Terrestrial Ecology
  • 1984 One of the first Trustees of the John Muir Trust, Trustee 1984–97, Honorary Adviser 1997–2003
  • 1990–92 Commissioner, Countryside Commission for Scotland
  • 1995–97 board member, Cairngorms Partnership
  • Independent monitoring scientist for downhill ski areas at the Lecht (1984 to date), Glenshee (1986 to date), Cairn Gorm (1990–99), Glencoe (1996), and gave technical advice to Nevis Range in November 1995. Author, Environmental Baseline Study for Glenshee Ski Centre 1987, Environmental Baseline Study of Damaged Ground at Cairngorm Estate 1994, and 9 Environmental Statements on proposed ski developments at Lecht (3), Cairn Gorm (2), Glenshee (2), Glencoe (2)
  • Recent activity

    One of Dr Watson's first loves, snow, remains a study subject that he is highly active on, particularly the longevity of snow-patches on Scotland's mountains, and in May 2009 led a walk at Glenshee where he showed the participants the long-lying snow-patches of the Cairngorms & Lochnagar and the effects of snow-lie on vegetation. His fascination for snow can be traced back 70 years.

    Watson has appeared twice with Bill Oddie, and acted as guide when the famous twitcher was in pursuit of dotterel, ptarmigan and mountain hare.

    The Place Names of Upper Deeside

    The origins of this place name study - of which this book is merely the published output - date to before 1971 when Adam Watson and John Duff (the former police constable in Braemar) began working together to collect Gaelic place names in upper Deeside.


    Adam Watson (scientist) Wikipedia

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